Indian hockey team geared up for the men’s World Cup with a 5-0 thrashing of reigning Olympic champions Argentina in its first warm-up match on Friday. Sixteen of the world’s top hockey teams will take part in the 14th edition of the World Cup to be held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. It is scheduled from 28 November to 16 December, 2018.
India’s only World Cup triumph came in the third edition of the championships way back in 1975, after a 2-1 win over Pakistan at Kuala Lumpur.
India has participated in all the 13 editions of the World Cup played between 1971 and 2014. Besides winning the coveted cup in 1975, under the leadership of Ajitpal Singh, the Indian team finished in third position in the inaugural World Cup in 1971 at Barcelona, losing to Netherlands in the final of the 1973 World Cup in Amstelveen.
Since then, the magicians who once ruled world hockey have never managed to enter the last four-stage, finishing in the fifth position in 1982 and 1994 and in sixth position in 1978 and 2014. India was placed eighth in 2010, ninth in 1998, tenth in 1990 and 2002, 11th in 2006 and a lowly 12th in 1986.
Indians were the undisputed kings of hockey between 1928 and 1956, at the Olympics, winning six golds on the trot. The team won two more golds, one at Tokyo in 1964 and the other at Moscow in 1980, in a depleted field. One silver at Rome in 1960 and two more bronzes at Mexico (1968) and Munich (1972) sums up the country’s participation at The Games. Since then, it has been a journey downhill for Indian hockey.
But this time around former captain Ajitpal Singh has high hopes from Harendra Singh’s brigade and feels the world ranked fifth Indian team can do wonders if they play to its potential and remain united throughout the event. “Our team is looking sharper, more combined, fitter. They have now learnt how top handle hockey on turf. But the team which plays together can achieve anything,” Ajitpal said to PTI.
“The Indian players will need to play out of their skins to win the World Cup a second time in 43 years,” writes sports journalist and coach Austin Coutinho on Firstpost.
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 is the 14th edition of the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup and will be the third time that India will be hosting the prestigious competition after having played hosts in 1982 in Bombay and in 2010 in New Delhi.
A total of 16 nations will take part in the tournament, which will see each team play three matches during the league stage over the span of 12 days before four cross-over matches take place on 10th and 11th December 2018.
The knockout matches will take place on 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th as the teams will look to become the Champions of the prestigious quadrennial event, which was won by Australia in 2014.
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The CSR Journal Team